Will Texting Save the Elephants?
Kenya is hoping that by implanting mobile phone cards in the animals’ collars, the government will be able to protect both elephant and human populations.
The Ol Pejeta conservation park in Kenya, the first country to use the technology, has long had problems with crop-raiding elephants. The animals have seen habitat encroachment due to human population growth and are currently listed as “near threatened” on the Red List of vulnerable species, put together by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In recent years, elephants have broken past park boundary fences to raid crops on small farms nearby, and the Kenya Wildlife Service has had to shoot the offending animals. Batian Craig, the conservation and security manager at the conservancy, says that during one harvest season, 15 families lost most of their crops due to elephants.
The two-year-old microchip project has only set up two geofences so far at the Ol Pejeta park, but farmers in the area already say they are relieved that they no longer have to worry about the elephants.
One repeat offender named Kimani, became a project of Save the Elephants, which wanted to see if they could retrain the marauding animal. The group put a SIM card in Kimani’s collar, and so far, they have prevented him from encroaching on human territory 15 times.
Basila Mwasu, who lives near the conservancy, says that an elephant once stuck its trunk through a window of her house, while another killed a neighbor who was defending his crops. She and her neighbors used to create bonfires and drum on pots and pans to scare elephants away.
“We had to go into town to tell the game (wardens) to chase the elephants away or we’re going to kill them all,” Mwasu told CBS News.
Tags: Elephants , Technology , Cell Phones , Cellphones , Kenya , Africa , Animals
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.